It was June of 2000 that the doctor uttered those words that changed the course of our lives … “Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter your son Reese has autism.” Those words started a journey for my wife and I. Twenty years later, we have learned from family, educators, and therapists how to help our son be the best “Reese” he can be. So when we had a chance to pay it forward, we took it.
After 38 years with a large South Florida company, Brett retired and started a non-profit called Children’s Health And Mentor Program (aka CHAMP). Angie followed in 2020. Our mission is simple and two fold. 1-Provide FREE recreational activities for individuals with special needs.
2-Provide employment training to help special needs people reach their full potential and change a disability check into a paycheck.
CHAMP serves individuals with Autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy to name a few. Through these recreational activities CHAMP will help them improve their social skills and help them reach their full potential up to and including employment. Again where appropriate, CHAMP’s vision is to replace a disability check with a paycheck.
CHAMP welcomes those with any special need. The special need we know the most about is Autism. So let’s talk about that for a minute. Today, one in 58 children will be diagnosed with autism and it used to be around one in 150 when Reese was born. Autism is becoming more prevalent and therefore having larger impacts on our community both now and in the future.
Now that we have covered what we want to do, let’s talk about what’s been done to date. Since its inception in March 2019, CHAMP has had 20 events. Teaching about flying drones, Bowling with Special Olympians, a Hawaiian themed dance, paddle boarding, a croquet lesson, a fishing trip on the Intracoastal and a trip to Miami on the Brightline Train to visit the Science Museum were the events to name a few.
The one we feel most passionate about is The Brightline Train Trip to Miami to see the Frost Science Museum on Saturday October 12, 2019.
CHAMP took 20 youth/young adults, 25 parents/caregivers as chaperones, and traveled on the Brightline Railway and met 7 sponsor (VIVINT) employee volunteers at the Miami Brightline Station. 52 of us then took a short walk to the Miami Metro People Mover and took some fun group photos in front of the Frost Science Museum.
The group of 52 then had lunch and then visited the planetarium show and the multiple levels of aquariums. All these activities were very visible and enjoyable by all. What wasn’t visible is that there were a variety of teachable moments that occurred and the group didn’t realize they were learning. Learning while having fun is the hallmark of CHAMP’s program.
Finally, we invite you to visit our website at WWW.MYYCHAMP.COM to reinforce who we are and what we do. The the posted pictures and associated descriptions in the EVENT PICTURES section provide a snapshot into our fun and learning. If you know of a friend or family member that could benefit from FREE recreational activities for those with special needs, please pass this article and the website on to others.